Thursday, February 4, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Thursday 2/4/16

  • Today is Part Deux of my Cleaning Frenzy.  It almost wasn't a cleaning frenzy today because I wasn't feeling it, but then Susan commented on my post from last night way earlier than she usually does and mentioned that she would try to clean this afternoon too and I'm nothing if not competitive (wait, does it even make sense?  I'm trying to say that I'm competitive...) so I decided that I would get started as soon as my son left for school at 9 a.m. instead of piddling the morning away on the laptop and dreading having to clean after lunch.  It worked!  I hadn't had breakfast yet and I was still in my nightgown (sexy.... not!) but I vacuumed (hate my vacuum!  I want to treat myself to a Dyson, frugality be damned!), dusted, and even washed the inside of our windows. Well, only the ones that are not always obscured by drapes because we have some of those (and if I can't see them, they're not dirty, right?).  I worked up quite a sweat and it took me about 90 minutes.    Crap, I just remembered that I also need to clean the downstairs bathroom.  Am I done yet?!

  • I took a short break in the middle of cleaning to torment play with my cats.  We have a couple of remote control tanks that have been sitting there for a couple of years and one of them still had some juice in it so I turned it on because I thought New Kitty, who is very playful, would pounce on it. She didn't, but she was mightily interested... and then the batteries died.  I'm too cheap (or lazy) to replace the batteries in something that I should probably donate since no one uses them.

  • "Spoke" with Greg briefly via text this morning. He felt better, having sleep 11 hours but wasn't very communicative. Then he was in a rush because he "needed to go get Brady before going into the first meeting."  I was feeling a little bitchy this morning so I said "I don't know who Brady is."  And he replied that autocorrect had changed "breakfast" to "Brady".  Well, it's a good thing that autocorrect didn't decide to change it to "Brandi" instead, people.  This is how technology causes divorces!  lol.

  • It got very dark at about 2:50 p.m. and 10 minutes later it was raining. Good thing I didn't bother washing the outside of my windows! I have to leave in 30 minutes if I want to make it to the free jazz concert at the Clermont library, and I want to go but at the same time, I'm thinking "Stay home! Stay home! Listen to one of your son's previous recordings instead!". No, dang it, I'm GOING.

  • WARNING: I'm using very strong language today in my "Failures" section.  If the F-word offends you, stay away.

  • I had about 15 minutes before leaving to attend the concert at the library this afternoon so I cleaned the downstairs bathroom.  With that, I think I'm done!  Yay!

  • I didn't call the Health FSA Account Administrator again today but guess who emailed me a survey to fill out about the company?  You bet your patootie that I lit into them. It's anonymous and won't help my claim at all, but it felt great to let them know just how much they suck.  

  • The kids packed a lunch to take to school.

  • My vacuum is a bagless vacuum cleaner. I appreciate not having to buy the bags anymore.  
Wow, my floors look way better in pictures than IRL!
  • To clean the windows, I used an old bath towel that I had cut up in squares and some Windex that Greg had brought back from his parents' RV last year. Just because I just bought a bunch of Bounty paper towels, it doesn't mean that I'm going to waste them.

  • I reused my mug from yesterday instead of using a clean one.  I have a rule in the house that you pick one cup in the morning and then leave it on the table at your spot during the day and just keep reusing that one. That really cut down on the amount of glasses/cups that we have to wash.  (in contrast, my ex and his wife hate seeing "dirty" dishes so they're always on the kids' cases for putting their glasses in the dishwasher as soon as they're done, telling them to get a clean one next time they want a drink.).  Since I didn't finish my water from my glass at dinner last night, I left it on the table and I'll be reusing it tonight. Update: only, for some reason, my daughter decided to empty my glass while I was gone this afternoon.  She had no explanation.  She just dumped the water down the sink :(

  • I'm going to wear the same pants as I wore yesterday. I've worn those pants every day since Saturday. They're fine so there's no need to put them in the wash. I do change my shirt every day, though, usually.  Sometimes I don't if I didn't sweat (that's only in the winter, here!) or stain it.

  • Bing Rewards: did all the activities for today and reached the mandatory 150 searches to maintain my Gold Level :)

  • Swagbucks: Ngage didn't last long today and JunoGroup wasn't available at all. I ran SBTV on my phone and qualified for a 60 SB survey about my electricity provider so I was able to meet my 1st goal of 105 SB before I started cleaning the house. Woohoo!

  • A couple of days ago, I, Alison, and another commenter were discussing Paypal in the comment section of Alison's blog (NOVA Frugal Family) because I was saying that I didn't want to link my Paypal account to my bank account so I wasn't sure how I was going to access the money that MobiSave sends automatically to Paypal.  Well, this morning one of my brothers (the one who is the cop down in Marseille) told me that his PayPal account had been hacked and since his was linked to his bank account, the hackers completely emptied his bank account!  Can you imagine?! He's working with the bank and with PayPal to get restitution but my natural pessimistic nature is thinking that he might be up a creek without a paddle unless he can prove that he was hacked!  Yeah, never linking PayPal to my bank account now!

  • In other news, he and his GF are taking the train to Paris to go spend the weekend with our younger brother and his wife later on this motnh.  Waaaaaahhh, I wanna go too! Not so frugal though.  We decided that we would try to Skype when they were all together. My daughter will get to practice her French :) She said she would tell them how to get to the post office (I guess that's what they're studying in her class right now, lol).

  • One of the cardboard cat scratchers was pretty torn up so I turned it over so the cats can use the pristine new side.

  • Turned up the thermostat to 76 as soon as my son went to school so the AC won't come on as much. I'll turn it back down to 74 in the late afternoon so my daughter is comfortable in her bedroom tonight (although I think it might get cool again tonight, I need to check the weather report).

  • I printed some coupons from Betty Crocker.

  • The Boxtops4Education e-newsletter reminded me to send the boxtops labels to my son's school this month so they can be counted for the Spring collection event. So I got mine out and clipped them neatly and put them in a recycled envelope for my son to drop off at the Front Office tomorrow.

  • Then I did the same thing with the Campbell's Labels for Education.

  • While I was vacuuming, I found an unused scratch-off lottery ticket under my couch!  It was one of the ones I gave the older kids at Christmas but since I couldn't figure out which of my 2 older sons hadn't used theirs, I just put it aside until I was done cleaning and then I scratched it off myself.  My heart started beating a little because I thought I was about to win $1,000 (I would have THEN figured out which son had forgotten their ticket!) but it wasn't to be.  Poop.

  • Swagbucks sent me the $25 Target gift card that I ordered yesterday. Yay!  So I printed the email.  This will go in the Target folder in my coupon organizer and I will keep track of the balance with a pen on there.  I opened the email on my phone, put in my password so I could access the gift card, and took a screenshot of the gift card UPC screen. I favorited it so it's in my favorite folder with the other one (easily found) and just in case I delete it by mistake before it's used up, I saved the email in a special folder in my inbox.  Phew. I think this will work (well, it worked with the 1st one so I'm confident it will work!).

  • My lunch was the Chicken HabaƱero Tamale that I got for free from RaceTrac yesterday. I made a side salad with the left over (soggy!) salad that I had made with my homegrown lettuce on Sunday night and some fresh Boston lettuce from Aldi. I used up some of the dressing that I had made for the Chinese Cabbage Salad wayyy before Christmas (it's still good!).  I also had a Pillsbury Grands! biscuit that I baked last night, a cup of cantaloupe and a broken up fortune cookie that I found in a container when I was cleaning the kitchen this morning. Oh and a cup of tea...  You know what?  It was the first time in my life that I had even eaten a tamale and it was pretty darn good!  Very spicy though...  That fortune cookie, though... very stale. Yuck (I still ate it!).  The fortune was "Do not be overly judgmental of your loved one's intentions or actions". I think Greg planted that one at some point!

  • I brewed myself a cup of black tea with the teabag that Greg had used for his breakfast on Monday morning (yes, I still had it!). Hopefully I won't get his cooties (I should be ok, he only used his cup after he had already taken the tea bag out).

  • This is the end of the $5 Footlong at Subway.  I was just calculating this morning that my daughter's over 6' chicken breast sub that she made last night for her lunch today cost me only about $0.75 including the cheese.  ($0.12 sub roll on clearance from Walmart, about 50 cents of chicken breast (at $1.99/lb for boneless skinless breasts at Walmart) and I'm throwing in $0.13 of shredded cheese ($1.89 for an 8oz-block at Aldi). So... oh well.  I do need to learn to make my own sub rolls though. I haven't been very good with those. I need to practice!

  • So I finally took a shower at 2:40 p.m. and used the water that I collected in a bucket while the water was warming up to flush the toilet.  I had a bunch of slivers of French soap bought in Marseille last summer. I really liked the scents so I was sad that I just had little pieces left.  Then I remembered that when I cleaned out  and reorganized my bathroom's closet last year, I found this... I don't know what it's called but it's kind of a loofah-type scrubby thing that came around a bar of natural soap that I had bought at the Mount Dora Art Festival a couple of years ago.  So I slipped the bits of soap in there and it really lathered up and I was able to scrub myself clean too.  Very nice!  The only problem is that it's open at both ends so when it's dry, I'm going to sew it shut with some embroidery thread.  I'll just cut it open when it's time to change the soap in there. Yay, I love re-discovering things that I had forgotten I had and putting them to good use... especially when it allows me to be frugal by using up those bits of soap!

  • SavingStar had new offers available today so I uploaded a couple to my account.

  • I took a RaceTrac survey and earned a new survey reward code for a free bag of chips.

  • Aldi replied to my email from yesterday warning them that I couldn't see any of their weekly ads on their website by saying they "couldn't replicate the problem" so it had to be my browser. So I took screenshots of the page viewed with Chrome on my laptop, Safari on my phone, Bing app on my phone, Chrome on my Kindle Fire and Silk on my Kindle Fire, all with the same result: no ads can be viewed!  I first replied to their reply but that bounced back because they don't want customers replying to them. So I went back to their "Contact Us" section on the website and filled out a new form referencing the issue # they had issued me and attached the 5 screenshots, which I thought would work out well since the site allows us just 5 attachments.  Well, once I hit "send", it told me that the system had thought my message was SPAM so it asked me to resend it. So I had to fill everything out again, retype my message, reattach the files, hit sent... this time I got an ERROR message. Oh, I had had it up to here with Aldi's website, let me tell you!  So the 3rd time I didn't bother attaching the screenshots but I explained in the message how their website isn't working as well and asked them to provide me with a direct email address so I could send them the screenshots.  I haven't heard back.

  • I drove to Clermont and attended a free 2-hour long jazz concert, sponsored by the Friends of the Library and featuring the Music Remembrance Jazz Trio. They were really excellent.  Boby Koeble, the guitarist, is a professor at UCF and Rollins College and his two cohorts play, among other places, with the Brass Ensemble at Universal Studios.  It was me and a bunch of senior citizens. I think a retirement home might have brought them by bus. There were more people than the librarians expected and when I got there, there didn't seem to be any seating available!  However, there was one seat in the front row, right in the center, so I asked if it was taken and it wasn't and I ended up with the best seat in the house, eh eh.  The trombonist was very nice and entertaining and she did some trivia and gave out a couple of prizes. I won the first prize, which was a Mardi Gras mask from the Dollar Tree (since they were honoring, among other things, Mardi Gras) and I had to wear it too. Oh my!  It wasn't easy with the glasses! I did get to talk to Bobby Koeble during the intermission and introduce myself as the mother of my oldest son, since he knows him of course and completely geeked out telling him how much I had loved his performance on "Wrinkle" at the UCF Jazz Festival back in 2014.  He had had a guitar "duel" with Mitch Stein (the guitarist who plays with April Lavigne) which completely blew me away and to this day, this is my favorite song of all the songs performed by my son's orchestra (who also performed a solo that was excellent on that same song).  Anyhoo, I had taped the concert and put the music on my phone and that is the one song I listen to all the time.  He was flattered and in turn I heard some really really things about my son :)  I didn't push it by suggested that he hires him to play with him, though.

  • I had a thought to pick up dinner in Clermont since it was dark when I left and I didn't really feel like cooking, but then I stopped myself and decided that I might just make canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches instead of the homemade lentil soup that I had planned to cook.

  • On my way home, I stopped by RaceTrac to redeem one of my survey reward codes for a free bag of chips for my youngest son.  When I got out of the station, my SUV's headlights were on!  I thought that maybe I had forgotten to turn them off (but if I did, a ringing would have sounded) but when I got back in there, the lights HAD been turned off.  Ugh. This is another issue probably linked to that sensor problem.  I was upset but when I got home and locked the car, the problem didn't reoccur.  I think that we're going to take the family car to go to UCF tomorrow night. It'll cost less in gas and also be easier to park (the spaces are very narrow there) and I won't have to worry about all that.

  • So I got home, I chatting with the kids about their day and mine and  I didn't feel like making grilled cheese sandwiches after all, so I proposed breakfast for dinner and of course the kids jumped on that! So I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip pancakes, nuked some breakfast sausages and made some eggs for my daughter and me. It was quick to make and delicious if not very healthy.

  • I realized that I still needed to cut up the chicken leg quarters that had been defrosting and then find room in the freezer for them, so I decided to just roast all of them and I'll pick the meat off the bones and freeze it already cooked.  

  • My plan for tonight: I'm going to turn on something on Netflix (probably "Battle Creek"), clip my newly printed coupons and clean out my coupon organizer.  That'll take me a couple of hours!

  • Gas to go to Cooper Memorial Library to watch the Music Remembrance Jazz Trio in concert.

  • I don't think we had any failures, personally.

  • But hey, I wonder if this will mean the end of my Murphy USA freebies... wonder if Walmart will take it over since the station is right there in the Walmart parking lot. Also wonder if they won't give the 3 cent/gallon discount if you pay with a Walmart gift card.  I had stopped getting gas there since I prefer RaceTrac anyway.

  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Vacuumed the living room
  • Vacuumed the carpets in the "exercise room"
  • Vacuumed around the cardboard cat scratchers in the entry room
  • Dusted all surfaces downstairs
  • Washed most of the downstairs windows (inside only)
  • Corresponded with my brothers via email
  • Transcribed a song for my guitar-playing brother.  It's a very pretty song, I like the girl's voice a lot but at times she sings like she has marbles in her mouth! I think I got most of it but there's one line that I just can't figure out so I emailed my middle son and my daughter to see if they can figure it out...

  • Cleaned the downstairs bathroom (toilet bowl, sink, dusted, shook the mats outside, swept)
  • Attended the jazz trio concert in Clermont
  • Pick up a freebie from RaceTrac
  • Cooked dinner
  • Roasted the 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters

  • I saw a Slickdeals post yesterday advertising that Brighthouse (my internet provider) is offering a 100 MB plan for $35 a month for new customers.  Our plan is wayyyy slower than that and we pay $50 after tax and corporate discount. The discussion that ensued mentioned that a Brighthouse tech told one guy that they would do away with Earthlink.  Well, our service is actually Earthlink via Brighthouse (I don't really understand it, Greg had set it up that way 14 years ago and we just have never changed it) so that would stink because I actually use the Earthlink email address for some stuff.  Anyhoo, all that reminded me that I wanted to investigate the cost of other internet packages with Brighthouse (we don't have a choice of providers, in my neighborhood, if we want cable internet) so at least it gave me some information (that and this thread on another forum) about what my options might be (sounds like I can just keep what I have or I can pay a little more and get a lot more speed. Greg is going to want more speed but I wanted to pay LESS than what we pay now, not the same or more!).  The $35/month plan is a 1-year offer only.  I HATE calling those kind of providers because they spend 99% of the call trying to get you to spend more money and I get very aggravated and very rude and it's just not a good experience for anyone.  So if I have to call them again to renegotiate in a year, I probably won't bother even though that might save us a bundle. I know, it's stupid. But I know me. 

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup black tea
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 1/2 cup granola with banana, 1/3 cup ~ 2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • Chicken habaƱero tamale, garden salad, cantaloupe, fortune cookie, Pillsbury Grands! biscuit
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • nothing
    • Dinner:
      • chocolate chip pancakes, breakfast sausages, 2 eggs
    • Evening Snack:
      • Honey Nut Chex Mix
  • Weight:
    • 218 lbs
  • Exercise:
    • I vacuumed, dusted and washed windows. I'm calling that my exercise for the day.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. $35 for 100mb? Jealous. One of the disadvantages of living in a small rural town - I pay $39.99 pretax for 3mb. The highest option only goes up to 25mb and that was just recently done! The husband wants to upgrade but I don't want to spend that much money.

  2. Do you wanna come to my house? There is cleaning to be done and seeing as you have none to do now I thought it would be nice if I offered you mine, just to keep you busy. Ha ha

    For gods sake I can't believe hackers hacked your sons university, its getting beyond a joke I almost wish we would go back to paperwork. I hope your son got away with not affected by it.

    I have never been to a jazz concert but I bet it was good.

    We get 40MB for £15.00 a month. Xx

  3. Sorry for the test comment but I have had trouble commenting on your site before. I think it's because I use wordpress. My site is and really enjoy your site. Am I correct that you live in Central Florida? I work at UCF and have noticed you mention it before.

    1. Well hello... Natalie, is it? I like your name, lol.

      Sorry you had problems commenting before. I might have been because I hadn't enabled the option for commenters to remain anonymous for just type in their name and URL, but I changed that a little bit ago. In any case, thanks for commenting and for your kind comment!

      Yes, I live in Lake County. I mention UCF (like in this post!) because my oldest son is currently a senior there, majoring in Jazz Studies. Can you share what you do at UCF?

      I wasn't aware of your site, thanks for sharing the URL. I will check it out next week!

    2. I'll send you an e-mail.


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